Nutritious wonders in bright yellow cases, bananas are one of the world’s favourite fruits for good reason. Find out all about this tropical treat and how it can contribute to keeping you nice and healthy.
Did you know? Bananas are the most popular fruit in the UK and considered the most important fruit in the world. More than 5 billion bananas are bought every year in Britain, and the UK accounts for roughly 7% of the global export market. 1
You can choose from normal bananas or plantain bananas, the former being creamy and sweet and the latter being starchier and firmer – which is why they’re usually cooked.
The bananas we usually have at home – the large, smooth-skinned, yellow and sweet banana – are called Musa sapienta.2
But what is eating bananas good for? Keep reading to find out!
A bit of banana nutrition
Let’s start with the basics: what vitamins, minerals and other nutrients make up the humble banana?
Nutritional content of bananas:
Banana nutrition facts for 1 medium fruit (118g):3
- Calories: 105 kcal (5% DV*)
- Total carbohydrate: 27g (9% DV)
- Of which sugars: 14.4g (29% DV)
- Total fat: 0.4g (1% DV)
- Total protein: 1.3g (3% DV)
- Dietary fibre: 3.1g (13% DV)
- Vitamin B6: 0.4mg (22% DV)
- Vitamin C: 10.3mg (17% DV)
- Manganese: 0.3mg (16% DV)
- Potassium: 422mg (16% DV)
- Folate: 45mcg (11% DV)
- Magnesium 31.9mg (8% DV)
*%DV (daily values) based on an adult consuming a typical 2000 calorie daily diet. Your daily values may vary based on your individual needs.
Keep on reading to find out just what this healthy mix of nutrients can do for your health.
What are the benefits of eating bananas? Here’s 8 of the best banana benefits
1. Bananas may be good for your heart health
A good place to start in supporting your heart health is making sure you get enough of the following nutrients:
- Vitamin C
- Other antioxidants
Some research has shown that people who follow a diet high in fibre have been seen to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who were eating little fibre. The people getting lots of fibre also has lower ‘bad’ cholesterol – LDL (low-density lipoprotein).4
Bananas have lots of healthy fibre, as well as potassium, folate and vitamin C, so they could help support your heart health.
2. Bananas may help you regulate blood sugar levels
Eating high-fibre diets can help to lower blood sugar levels. One medium banana provides 13% of your total dietary fibre and also gives you the energy boost from its natural sugars at the same time.
In fact, Diabetes UK state that even a large banana that contains around 30g of carbohydrates is better for diabetics than a slice of cake with 25g carbohydrates, partly because bananas have no free sugar. 5
3. Bananas may support your digestive health
Bananas can be very beneficial for your digestive health as they contain lots of dietary fibre and water.
They are also part of a treatment for treating diarrhoea called BRAT, which some doctors recommend. BRAT stands for:6
What’s more, bananas contain electrolytes like magnesium and potassium, which can often become depleted during diarrhoea.
4. Bananas could help you feel sleepy
The Sleep Council recommend eating bananas to help you get to sleep. They said that they make an ideal snack before bed as banana vitamins include potassium and magnesium, both of which help to relax overstressed muscles.
Bananas also contain tryptophan which helps to make the hormones that calm you down at the end of the day. 7
5. Bananas are very weight-loss friendly
All fruits and veggies are usually on cards for healthy weight loss, and bananas are definitely one of them.
Snacking on a banana instead of a regular chocolate bar will typically save you a few calories, fill you up much better and nourish your body with more vitamins.
Multiple studies have explored the link between diets high in fibre (from whole fruits and other sources) and long-term weight management. One review found that a lot of the research on fibre and weight management showed that high-fibre diets almost always help people to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight in the long term.8
One medium banana contains 13% of your daily recommended amount of fibre, so it could be worth incorporating some into your diet if you’re wanting to shed some lbs or just get healthy!
6. Bananas are rich in antioxidants
Bananas contain a variety of different antioxidants. Antioxidants get to work in the body protecting our cells from oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
Two of the most potent antioxidants found in bananas are catechins and dopamine, which are linked to many health benefits. 9
7. Bananas could support kidney health
Potassium is important for kidney health, and as we’ve already discussed, bananas are full of the stuff!
In fact, there have been studies that show a link between eating potassium-rich foods like bananas and reduced kidney disease risk.10
8. Bananas could help you get energised before exercise
Bananas are one of the most popular pre-workout snacks around. Going for a run? Grab a banana. Long bike ride? Bananas can help you keep going.
This is because bananas provide easily digested carbs and provide minerals to help soothe muscle cramps and soreness after exercise.
Studies have shown that they are just as good, if not better, as some sports drinks for workout energy.11
9 ways to eat bananas
Now you know how good they are for you, here are 8 ways you can enjoy eating bananas.
- Smoothies: pop chopped fresh or frozen bananas into your morning smoothie for sweetness and creaminess. Try this Green Goddess Superfood Smoothie.
- Banana pancakes: mix with flour, sugar, baking powder, coconut oil and plant milk for vegan banana pancakes! Or take a look at the veggie banana pancake recipe in this article.
- Pop in your porridge: bananas make an excellent addition to porridge. Here’s a peanut butter porridge recipe with bananas for some inspo.
- Cover in chocolate: dip chunks of banana in dark chocolate to make tasty – yet healthy – little snacks.
- Banana bread: you know the drill when your bananas have overripened! Try this banana coconut bread.
- Nice cream: like ice cream, but nice cream! Freeze banana slices and combine with a splash of plant milk and maple syrup or agave nectar and blend for a tasty dessert.
- Dip in peanut butter: snack on banana and peanut butter any time of day for a lift.
- Fry up plantain: fry up some plantain to serve with a jerk curry and roti.
- Crunch up some banana chips: and sprinkle them on your yoghurt or cereal for a fast and sweet banana hit
What is bad about bananas?
Not much! The only banana drawback we can think of is their relatively high sugar content. If you ate multiple bananas a day and didn’t brush your teeth you could end up with some dental and weight problems.
Is it good to eat banana every day?
Yes! As discussed above, bananas are very nutritious and can make a fine addition to any daily diet.
What happens to your body when you eat bananas every day?
It depends what else you do, as well as what else you eat and drink. But eating a banana every day could provide you with a little extra energy from the carbs and the vitamins that support your body’s natural metabolism.
Swapping a normal sugary snack for a banana every day could also help you to feel more satisfied and have a better relationship with healthy eating – as bananas often feel like a ‘treat’ due to them being sugary.
Read more: Banana peel benefits
Last updated: 26th November 2020
Author: Bhupesh Panchal, Regulatory Affairs
Bhupesh started his career as a clinical toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products. After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
In his spare time, Bhupesh likes to cycle and has been learning to speak Korean for several years.